Think back to your first visit to the church, and try to remember how you felt singing worship songs with other churchgoers. Many of you probably enjoyed worship then and still do, but some people struggle with the fact that much of church is singing to God. To them, it seems weird that people get together each week and have a God “sing along.” From an outside perspective, a “sing along” might seem a little hokey and stupid. But in Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16, as well as in many Old Testament Scriptures, worship through song seems to be exactly God’s intention in commandment. Singing songs to God and about God has always been a huge part of worship in the Judeo-Christian trajectory. So should people really feel hokey or stupid doing it?
Isaiah 40:3-5 – 3 A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”
Bob Grahmann preached two weeks ago from Isaiah 40. I never really liked Isaiah 40:3-5.
I spent several years as a wilderness leader climbing mountains and paddling rivers. Mountains and valleys are basically my favorite things in the natural world. I know it’s going to sound like a shallow objection, primarily because it is, but the mental picture that the coming of Christ was glorified by all of life’s topography being erased bothered me. And for some reason, I equated this with heaven – that somehow this passage was saying that heaven isn’t a place where the mountains are high and the valleys low but instead is a place of flattened-out sameness.
There are two tasks that are absolutely integral to building strong Christian movements, believing individuals and solid families:
- Helping people move from a very large group comfortably into small groups in a way that seems relationally natural.
- Delivering important educational content necessary for full Christian transformation.
Small group communities and large group worship services have a hard time addressing these tasks. On one level I really wish that large group worship services and small groups were sufficient to meet the ministry needs of families and individuals. It would be so much simpler from an organizational and leadership perspective to have ministries to adults, youth and children based on these two types of environments. But there are a couple of problems.